Ecommerce can be a great opportunity for entrepreneurs. It’s fairly accessible and simple to get set up with minimum investment, plus demand is at an all-time high for online shopping.
But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, and it’s not for everyone — running an eCommerce store also requires a lot of planning, determination, and long hours to develop it into a successful business.
Before you’re ready to run and market your store you need to make sure you’ve followed all of these steps:
You know what you’re selling
If you don’t already have an idea about what you want to sell then you need to do some research into different niches and current shopping trends. Decide if you want to be more generalized and sell a wide range of products, or focus on a really specific niche. It can be easier to stand out if you go with something more specific, but you won’t appeal to a wide audience.
You’ve chosen a business model
This is the most important decision you’re going to make because it will influence everything else in your business. You need to choose how you’re going to source the products you sell — whether they’re handmade by you, manufactured for you by someone else, or if you’re going to buy stock wholesale and sell them on. Alternatively, you could use a dropshipping model, so that your supplier sends orders directly to your customer.
The model you choose will depend a lot on the type of products you’re hoping to sell. But you’ll need to also consider the time and investment that each route will require compared with how much control you have over your products and business. If you’re selling handmade products you can sell something unique and ensure it’s high quality, but it’ll be harder to increase production as you scale.
If someone else is producing them for you, then you’re handing over control to your manufacturer. And if you choose to sell wholesale or dropship, then you have very little control at all over the quality of your products.
You’ve got a business plan
You’ve got some ideas and you’ve put a bit of thought into how you’re going to run your business, the next thing you need to focus on is a business plan. If you want your eCommerce business to be a success then it’s crucial that you don’t skip this part. You’re going to need an in-depth business plan that can provide you with a roadmap for establishing and growing your business.
Your business plan is going to be a good way to assess the feasibility of your ideas, understand your target market, and assess the competition. It will set you up so that you know exactly what you’re up against, and what you need to do to make your business stand out from the competition to your target market. The video below explains exactly how to put together an effective eCommerce business plan:
You’ve put together a marketing plan
Successfully marketing your eCommerce store is going to be a deal-breaker for success, so before you’re ready to launch you need to come up with a marketing plan. You need a thorough understanding of your target market; who they are, what they do, their habits and interests, so that you can come up with a strategy to reach them and draw them to your online store.
Come up with your marketing goals, pick the tactics and channels you’re going to use and the messages you’ll share, and ensure your branding is conveyed across all communications. The video below covers all the basic parts of your marketing plan:
You’ve created your website
Now that you’ve done all the planning and nailed down your strategies, you need to put together a great website for your store.
If you don’t have much website development experience then there are lots of straightforward store builders to choose from, or you could hire a freelance developer. Either way, your store doesn’t need to be overcomplicated, it just needs to look good, be easy to navigate, and most importantly it needs to be free of any bugs.
Don’t launch your store with a half-built website. Start with something simple that focuses on selling your products and you can always improve it at a later date. It’s also important to work on the content of your site — your homepage, category pages, and product pages all need to have well-written, SEO optimized content. Not only will this improve your organic search engine rankings but it will also build trust with shoppers.
You also need to have set up social media accounts and started posting relevant content (in line with your marketing plan) in the lead up to your store launch.
You have reporting set up
The final stage before you’re ready to run and market your eCommerce store is to put in place reporting so that you can assess how well you’re doing. Set up Google Analytics tracking, decide on the KPIs you need to focus on, and how often you’re going to report on them. You can use Google Data Studio to create weekly or monthly reporting. This will help you understand where any problems are and give you insights as to how you should be developing and adapting.
There’s a lot more to running and marketing an eCommerce store than picking some products and sticking them on a website – but by following these steps you should be ready to get started and have a clear plan of how to build a successful business.